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Pogrow on 'Romantics': Setting Up False Polarity

To the Editor:

Stanley Pogrow makes a good point in his Commentary, "On Scripting the Classroom,"(Sept. 25, 1996). Teachers need tools with which to construct their practice. Effective tools can be developed by others, and teachers can then incorporate them into their teaching repertoire.

Yet Mr. Pogrow limits the effectiveness of his own communication by reducing this issue to a dichotomy. It's not an either/or issue; it doesn't need to be polarized. In my own teaching practice, both in high school and graduate school, I've used tools created by educators such as Mr. Pogrow. I've created teaching tools myself. I've adapted all of them to the particular qualities and needs of the learners in my charge.

Mr. Pogrow also muddies the waters of his discussion through his use of the acronym REAR for what he calls the "Research Academic Reform" community. What is gained by demeaning people with whom he disagrees?

I agree with Mr. Pogrow that "we should be celebrating good craft in instructional design" and supporting "those programs that have figured out how to consistently produce high levels of learning." But we also need to celebrate teachers who can respond to the individual qualities and needs of their students. We need to do both. Mr. Pogrow sets up a false polarity between what he calls "romantics" and what he calls "technologists." Good teachers don't pick one of these poles; they integrate and synthesize both of them.

David Marshak
Assistant Professor of Education
Seattle University
Seattle, Wash.

Critique of Choice Study Omitted Other Key Factors

To the Editor:

In his critique of Paul Peterson and Jay Greene's research on the Milwaukee choice program ("Letter,"Sept. 18, 1996), Gerald Bracey neglected to mention other very important factors that the two researchers failed to control: The Milwaukee Public Schools spent far more money per pupil and the city's public school teachers had more college training than their private school counterparts. Instead, Mr. Bracey focuses on the specks in Messrs. Peterson and Greene's eyes while ignoring the beams in his own--and those of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor John Witte, whose earlier study of the choice program did not square with the Peterson-Greene analysis.

David Barulich
Education Policy Consultant
EXCEL (Excellence through Choice in Education League)
Los Angeles, Calif.

Yes, Professional Jealousy Needs Serious Consideration

To the Editor:

Joseph Sanacore's essay "Professional Jealousy in the Central Office,"(Sept. 18, 1996) was not only refreshing but on target. As one who has been involved in education on the secondary level for the past 32 years, I can certainly attest to witnessing this type of behavior.

It does hurt individuals and it does lessen productivity. And I agree with Mr. Sanacore that people prone to expressing professional jealousy should be identified and prevented from taking leadership positions.

The idea of setting up a planning committee to thoroughly investigate possible candidates for the central office is a good one. Visiting the current places of employment of prospective candidates would be a wise way of seeing firsthand the impact these people have had on their present districts.

We all should focus more closely on the serious need for placing into central administration those people who are genuine and can stand, as Mr. Sanacore writes, "as positive leadership models."

Thomas Kelly
Mt. Sinai, N.Y.

To the Editor:

I just finished reading Joseph Sanacore's Commentary "Professional Jealousy in the Central Office,"(Sept. 18, 1996). Much of what Mr. Sanacore is saying underlies many of the school systems I have worked in and observed in my capacity as supervisor of advanced student teachers.

Jealousy is all too often the hidden agenda for many of the personnel placements in a school system where firing a teacher or administrator would be too obvious and subject to too many questions. Moving highly qualified individuals into less qualified positions, or overlooking the very qualified for an advanced position, is too often the way a superficial central team handles personnel matters--or should Isay personal matters.

While the central office is busy seeking ways to undermine the professional staff, they are neglecting the reason that they are in a supervisory position. It is time to put that effort back into educating the children and into encouraging professional growth and dedication from the staff.

Carole Isralow
Hauppauge, N.Y.

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